UAE travel industry vows to turn green

DUBAI — The UAE travel industry is seeing an eco-friendly transformation but it risks being stereotyped as the ‘anything goes’ destination for all things ‘big’, industry experts said .

By A Staff Reporter

Published: Sun 2 Mar 2008, 9:04 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 6:36 PM

Pacific Asia Travel Association president and CEO Peter de Jong met with UAE travel industry heads in Dubai recently who highlighted new projects utilising international initiatives and retrofitting established developments.

Jong said top management across hotels, air travel and tour operators would highlight and develop such initiatives at the PATA CEO challenge in Bangkok in April.

Emirates Resorts and Projects vice-president Tony Williams said the European travel industry and its consumers were leading the way but the UAE wasn’t far behind. Key individuals from 15 key organisations in the UAE’s travel industry had already committed to the summit including the Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing, Abu Dhabi Tour Operators Association and top hotel managements.

“Once you get a break in the mould — it took 30 to 40 years to work through Europe — it’s not going to take that long, maybe two years, to initiate in other regions,” Williams said.

Jong highlighted the Abu Dhabi Airport’s new terminals and the green methodology incorporated but said Dubai ran the risk of being stereotyped as ‘anything goes’ and having the biggest and the best, when the region had the greatest incentive to lead the way.

Williams said there were a number of initiatives in the region, citing the retrofitting of the Grand Hyatt and conservation-based establishments like Al Maha Desert Resort.

“Unfortunately, the focus is often on how big it is in Dubai but now international companies are coming in,” Williams said.

“Hotels are coming up and they’re pushing through international standards.”

Emaar Hotels Management Managing Director Richard Riley said it was significantly influencing new projects.

“Here in Dubai you have to be aware of the water resources and limited land,” he said.

Emirates Holidays vice-president John Felix said the eco-friendly trends within the country’s travel industry would begin to show soon.

“Over the next few years you’ll hear a lot more about what is happening in the region,” he said.

As sectors tended to operate independently, the summit would serve as a benchmark by bringing to the fore environmental initiatives across different sectors of the travel industry.

“We could have done more, better, sooner but now we’re aware of the train that is coming towards us,” he said.

“It’s the first ever attempt to cross-pollinate ideas (in the travel industry).

“It aims to bring leaders of each of those sectors (hotels, air travel and tour operators) together to actively work on issues that they can take home to their own companies and implement.”

He said the travel industry risked being left behind and subject to regulation, unless it took action and helped shape wise, informed reform.

Jong said tackling the issue with the input of all the travel industry sectors was reflective of their intertwined nature and a ‘dominoe effect’ could occur if one sector was dramatically affected by climate change or regulations.

The summit, from April 29 to 30 in Bangkok, will gather 300 to 400 heads of industry for results based sessions and panels.

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